Understanding Federated Mobile Search

Since writing about Kimia federated mobile search yesterday a few media agencies have asked me about the implications of federated mobile search. One newspaper also wanted to discuss the potential it had for creating spin-off news services via RSS feeds purely for mobile.  In order to provide more feedback on this area, I thought I would publish a report I published in December called, Federated Mobile Search: Medio vs MCN.  I have tweaked it slightly since then.


What is the difference between MCN and Medio System’s approach to federated Search? Federated mobile search is an area that is causing confusion in the mobile search market because there is no single definition.

According to Peter Jacso (2004, Wikipedia) federated search consists of:

1.   Transforming a query and broadcasting it to a group of disparate databases with the appropriate syntax;

2.   Merging the results collected from the databases;

3.   Presenting them in a succinct and unified format with minimal duplications;

4.   Providing a means, performed either automatically or by the portal user, to sort the merged result.

This is different to traditional search, which uses spiders to crawl data and get results. Often the same result can appear several times during a web search, whereas using federated search, the results are categorised and searchable without having to click through every result.

MCN has been a early mover and innovator in federated search. Its patented technology, Query Broker and Taxonomy, delivers results via one interface from any content source. Federated search is MCN has been core offering since the company’s launch in 2004.

The company’s mobilesearch.net offer is THE example of federated search and shows how relevant results can be delivered in two to three clicks.

Just recently Medio Systems, a mobile search company that has used the traditional search engine search method of crawling to access and retrieve information announced that it was adding federated search to its model.

MCN’s Federated search definition 
With MCN’s search a “single query can be brokered in real-time to access content distributed across multiple search engines and content repositories. Results are returned to the user as actionable content (music, games, images), as links to additional information (business addresses) or in whatever format is most appropriate.”

 MCN has adapted the core elements of federated search, increased scalability to respond to the larger mobile community ecosystem and added the appropriate tools, business interfaces and monetisation methods to create the ultimate solution for mobile search.

Medio’s Definition of Federated Mobile Search
Search results that include both on-deck content and mobile web results into an index from top search engines for the most complete search experience possible. 

So MCN the company has created a plug and play federated search system that orders and structures content from operators and content providers in a way that is easy to find, access and deploy (and has done so within six weeks). The company offers a pure content discovery solution for operators and vendors.

Medio Systems, on the other hand, is continuing to use crawling and indexing from traditional search, but is also bringing off-portal content to the party and federating the results of that off-deck content to improve the original on-deck search. Medio will broker results from search engines and merge them within the results of a specific query.

Critical comparison

MCN: Medio’s entrance into the federated space is vindication of what we knew in 2004 – crawling is not enough.

Medio Systems: This is not a question of whether or not crawling or federated is best. Crawling WAP sites is working and Medio is serving customers’ needs by offering brokered results from branded search engines.

MCN: As the leader in federated mobile search, MCN is already able to integrate, manage and view reports from multiple content channels or segments chosen by the mobile operator or content provider. This means that revenue generation is almost instant.

Medio Systems: Mobile search is not only about speed of results, but also relevance, advertising, behavioural analysis and organic results. The mobile search.net is rigid in that users always get similar results. With Medio the most relevant results come first and are not rendered in a particular way, rather they are returned and displayed with appropriate answers in mind.

MCN: User interface is paramount in mobile search. This means that MCN is also able to provide operators with advanced services – from recommendation engines to cross-promote push and sell services – that will make the solution richer and get users what they want faster.

Medio Systems: Recommendation is one channel, but Medio’s ActiveRank algorithm uses keyword relevance to ensure that search results are found first – not similar results or near matches.

MCN: Dynamic search is what MCN is about. Since its launch it has been focused on brokering results in real-time. This means that query results are returned and sorted into a single ranked display. MCN has taken this concept built the Query Broker technology around it and the result is the Mobilesearch.net Search Management platform.

Medio Systems: With eight deployments in seven countries Medio is already a leader in integration. The goal now is to deliver off-deck results to enhance the user experience. Our use of federation with Google and Yahoo! results is no different from MCN’s ability to generate federated results from different mobile advertisers.
MCN: MCN is the Rolls Royce of the federated mobile search space and Medio’s is jumping on the bandwagon with a Ford imitation.

Medio Systems: Medio is no imitation. There is no question that federated search is a strong option for mobile and Medio supports the best technologies.


The argument for crawling vs federating is one about made for mobile vs replicating the Internet. The two schools of thought vary on this and the fact that Medio Systems has introduced federated search to its portfolio leads us to believe that a new alternative for the mobile Internet is available – combining what is good from the Internet with made-for-mobile.

This is way that MCN has made federated search its own. It has added to the traditional Internet search, enhancing it to create a deeper system that is more appropriate to the mobile services it promotes. The notion of brokering the results should enhance the medium – as long as the net is cast sufficiently widely and the brokering mechanism is always biased towards producing apt answers the first time.

About Bena Roberts

GoMo News' founder and former managing editor, Bena Roberts has now moved on. She's now spending more time with her family. Tony Dennis has now assumed her mantle as the site's editor.
This article was published in Analysis, Branded Mobile Search, Mobile Search, Popular, White Label Search_ and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Understanding Federated Mobile Search

  1. Pingback: » Understanding Federated Mobile Search

  2. Bena Roberts says:

    I just wanted to point out that Medio is a much bigger competitor in the white label mobile search space than MCN and this was not the fairest comparison.

    This was pointed out to me and Federated is just a minor part of the value chain. Medio commands a lead in white label search in North America and MCN is building its federated search business well in Thailand, Finland and Japan.

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